Recently LIFE donated uniforms to some soccer teams in Garissa, Kenya. The team named Mwamba FC means Rock in Swahili. Volunteers coach the team and the players range from young students to graduates, most who are from local tribes in the surrounding communities. The coaches use a whole life coaching method, meaning they don’t just teach their players how to play soccer, but they also teach them valuable life skills. They have received numerous testimonies of youth who have transformed their lives because of this method. Many of the players have stopped taking drugs like khat or miraa and have learned the importance of keeping their bodies healthy.
“Donations are the best gift, thank you,” said Mo, the coach of one the girl’s basketball team in Djibouti. The girls that play together have a very tight bond. “It brings people together,” said Mo.
Sports have taught them disciplines that they may not be learning elsewhere. There are girls from all neighborhoods playing together. One of the girls, Farah, age 28, has been playing basketball since age 12. She says they often how to go out and encourage the girls to come to practice despite how others may perceive them.
For the distribution, the federation contacted all the coach’s and basketball teams. One girl’s team plus six other men’s teams were present. Each team received a pair of shoes for each player and one basketball for the team to use. It was held at the basketball gym in town, an open-wall, covered concrete gym with stadium seating. They had decided to do the distribution that day and called all of the players and coaches. The coaches and Farah could not believe how many people had showed up on such short notice. The players were so excited to receive the new shoes, especially since they could be used for basketball.
“Some people don’t have any shoes,” said Mo. “While we may not make very much money being a coach, seeing the girls smiling and having fun is enough money for me.”
In the mountain region of Djibouti during the fall and spring, temperatures can dip to around 50 degrees F. For a people who are used to 90+ temperatures this can be quite a shock to their systems. While also dealing with a lack of food and living in a vulnerable community, many of the women, children, and elderly are left suffering from diseases such as tuberculosis, bronchitis, etc. A local association working in this region reached out to us asking for assistance. We were able to provide rice packets to 120 families.
Fatouma Agaita (pictured right) is a mother of four and was thrilled to receive the rice. She said, “We are living by the grace of God and you cannot imagine how we are happy to get this food. You can see by the smiles of our children that it is not easy for us to get food. But today we thank God who sent you to give us free food. I request just to remember our vulnerability every time you get something to eat or to wear. Please, don’t throw them out but remember that there are some people that can only live for the things that other people can consider without valor.’’
Alimo (pictured above left), a mother of 5 said, “Thanks a lot for bringing us this aid. I’ m very happy because I’ve received food for my children. Really I did not have anything to feed my family today. My other children are in the main road begging and this is our daily life. I am especially touched for the work you are doing, providing food to the vulnerable people. I really want to say thank you to the donors, and I will pray for them. Please, remember us every time you have opportunities. All my community here are homeless and we can be chased away by the government to find another place, please remember us. Again and again I say thank you.’’
In 2015 LIFE distributed clothes and other aid to around 200 families who became homeless after their huts were intentionally destroyed. the people who required the families to leave gave some advance notice, but the residents did not make appropriate preparations in time. They were not provided an alternate place to live, and in the process, they lost their few belongings. Grateful mothers gathered at the community center to receive clothes and food for their children. Community leaders sincerely appreciated the timely gifts for their people.
Financed by the American State Department through the Julia Taft Fund, Local Initiatives for Education (L.I.F.E.) was able to provide a place for 60 students from different parts of the refugee camp to come and learn how to sew. The students, in groups of 20, work three hours a day for three days a week. The students begin with little or no experience in sewing, and are taught by former students of the sewing project. Skills taught include basic cutting, advanced clothes creating, and maintenance of the machines. In February of 2016, 43 students graduated from the sewing center. These graduates are now able to use their skills to provide an income for their family.
Recently our team distributed flip flops to some of the villages in rural Djibouti. Here are their stories:
We identified vulnerable families who would benefit the most from the flip-flops. There were 250 families who were identified, and all of them were homeless women with children. One lady Fatouma Sheem said that her family were really happy to get the flip-flops. For a long time they have walked barefoot and this gift comes at a crucial time. Their homes were recently destroyed and they have lost everything. "We thank the providers and may God bless them for donating in a difficult moment."
We recently received a shipment of blankets and rice and bean packets. We distributed these among a rural area in Djibouti.
"Thank you for your help, we are so happy to get this help. We welcome any kind of help from you. Really we are desperate people because we live in a border area where no one helps us."
The girl (pictured right) lost her father in Yemen. Her mother works hard to sell material on the street of the village. Living as refugees she has not had the opportunity to go to school. She has to help her mother sell material so they can have money to live.
When we asked her what she would like to get in life, she responded, "I would like to go school to change the life of my family in the future."
As an organization we are working hard to create opportunities for children like this girl. By providing basic necessities like food and blankets we can help take the burden off of the children and give them an opportunity to get in school.
"Thank you for your help, I was wondering what I was going to do for my children to protect them from the cold. But now I have two blankets and 6 boxes of rice. This is the first time in my life to get help from somewhere and I was so surprised when I was given these blankets and rice!
I hope this is not the last time to get help, and I hope this will open doors for help of abandoned people like us. I would like my children to get better future than me. Thank you so much. You create us hope of life and we keep you eye on always."
"It is a big challenge to be born homeless and to grow up having children in the same condition—no job and no income, but begging in the streets with our children is our daily life! We are very thankful to those who sent us the rice. May God bless them."
"My name is Halimo and I am a mother of 6. I am very happy today, and I have no words to express it. Thank you so much for giving us the blanket to protect us from the cold."
"My name is Zahra and I am a grandmother of two. Their family separated when the youngest was 6 months old. Today he is two and half. Only Allah knows our situation and this blanket which you gave us is one of our main needs. Thank you so much for remembering us."
"I want to bring this blanket and rice to my mother. My mother is sick today and at home. I love this rice; I want to eat it and grow up quickly to help my family in the future. I want to be a doctor. If I were a doctor today I would help cure my mother."
"My name is Mona and I am 11 years old, and this is my brother Kalid. I help my mother at home, cooking food, washing clothes, and doing dishes. I do not attend school, but I do attend the local school where I learn religion. When I finish there I want to learn other languages like English or Arabic. In the future I want to help my family."
"I am a mother of two children and am happy to have this blanket to keep my children from the cold. This is my youngest daughter and she has been sick for two weeks. There is not a good hospital here, and we do not have enough money to get to the capital. We hope she will recover one day with the traditional medicine available in our village."
"We are so happy today! We got help from you and this is not what we expected. We didn't know if there were merciful people who knew our situation. You give us great happiness. Today we got rice and blankets and it is the perfect time for blankets because of the cold."
"I am a mother of four children and am very happy to get this blanket and rice to my children." Thank you for your unforgettable help and we hope to have more from you in the future. You are so dear to us for bringing the blankets and rice into our village. I think tonight my children will not be cold when I put this blanket them. Thank you again. I very appreciate with your gift."
"We are very happy to get this wonderful gift from people who love to support weak people like us. Today is unforgettable day for us because we now have blankets for our children.. We would like to thank those merciful people who brought us blankets and rice into our village."
The nursing students from the Amoud Health Science faculty conduct family visits in the community. This semester they have been going to an area where people have returned to live after being in Ethiopia. During the war they fled from Somaliland to Ethiopia and now they have come back. In this specific area are the poorest of the poor.
In the initial visit from the nursing students they took a family health assessment where they assessed the nutritional status (MUAC assessment tool) of the children under five. In this specific area they found that some of the families who had children were malnourished or in danger of malnutrition. Some of the families could not provide three meals a day for their children. The students brought nutritious rice packages to give out to the families.
In Borma there is an orphanage with about 90 children between the of 3 and 16. The students went there to talk about health education and spend time with the children. They delivered also delivered one box of nutritious rice for the children.
Gargarra is a village in North West Somaliland, that has begun to pursue agricultural development. They have fields outside the village, and have begun growing a variety of crops. The Minister of Agriculture asked LIFE to aid Gargarra in preventing flooding in their fields. When the rain comes it goes directly into their fields and destroys the crops, and then heads straight to the ocean. This means that they are unable to conserve the water, and their crops are destroyed. We at LIFE, in coordination with the Minister of Agriculture, decided to give them 80 gabions, and aid them in the installation process. The gabions will divert the flow of water into their irrigation canals, allowing them to save the crops, and conserve water. Water is a commodity in these regions of Somaliland, and so anything done to preserve it is well worth it.
On August 10th 2014, in coordination with the Ministry of Agriculture, LIFE supplied 80 gabions to the village of Gargarra. In order for the workers installing the gabions to be paid, we brought two tons (145 boxes) of rice as well, and used it as Food for Work. As an added kindness LIFE also supplied them with one hundred pairs of Tom’s shoes, which were distributed mainly amongst the children.
The Minister of Agriculture went on this trip as well, because he believed it to be extremely important. Agricultural development is a slow growing sector in the Somaliland economy, and fields getting destroyed by rain would severely hamper its growth. That being said, we at LIFE were very happy to supply gabions to Gargarra, being as it is a project that will have long term implications.
For a detail looked at L.I.F.E.’s work inside one of the refugee camps in Djibouti, check out the link below to the UNHCR Newsletter. We have been working with a group of women to teach them various sewing projects so they can provide income for their families.
UNHCR Newsletter - Click to Read